Get ready for your season with theScore's 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit.
If you're the fortunate one to draw the first overall pick in your fantasy draft, you don't have to think too hard about who you're selecting (hint: it's Mike Trout unless you're hopelessly contrarian).
Perhaps no one is in a more difficult position than the one who draws No. 2. This is not because there's an immediate dearth of talent, far from it. With Trout out of the way, there are so many options at your fingertips, each providing a different set of skills. The other issue is the waiting game. In 12-team leagues, the second person to draft will have to wait an agonizing 20 picks to grab his or her next selection. By then, the pool of talent will have lost some top names, and this has to be considered.
Still, there's no perfect answer to the problem. Your first step is looking ahead to the next round and deciphering who is most likely to be left. According to the NFBC's average draft position, you're left with Cody Bellinger, J.D. Martinez, Anthony Rizzo, and Stephen Strasburg around the 23rd selection, though rivals will reach on occasion. As usual, make a plan and be prepared to adjust on the fly if the landscape changes.
2B Jose Altuve
Here's your most obvious, and probably most common selection in this position. After Trout, Altuve is probably the best bet to provide value in all five offensive categories in standard leagues. He's stolen 30 or more bases in six consecutive seasons and is almost a lock to hit above .300. Bolstering his value even further is playing for the Astros, maximizing his scoring opportunities and his RBI chances. Altuve is the safest choice with the No. 2 pick.
If you're keen on rolling the dice with an alternative, Dee Gordon or Brian Dozier may fall to your next couple picks, though they're certainly not as well-rounded. Gordon will amplify your stolen bases even more than Altuve, and Dozier will bring the power, but neither offers elite quality in all five categories.
SP Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer
Maybe you don't want to play it safe, and instead, want to get a head start on your pitching staff. Kershaw is the consensus choice, but theScore had Scherzer ranked ahead of him on account of his dominant durability in recent memory.
It goes against conventional wisdom to take a starter with the second pick, but it opens up a couple avenues. One, you can wait before grabbing a second pitcher as either option gives you a bit of an edge. Two, you can double down and reach for Strasburg or Bumgarner in Round 2 to get a stranglehold on the position.
1B Paul Goldschmidt
Goldschmidt has been a staple in the first round of fantasy drafts for several years due to his ability to hit around .300 and the surprising amount of speed he features as a first baseman. His days as a surefire target this early in the proceedings may be in jeopardy, though.
He saw his steals drop from 32 to 18 in 2017 while only playing in three fewer games than the year before. His power production jumped with 36 homers, but that's the expected result from the position. If his speed continues to deteriorate, he won't be much more valuable than Jose Abreu, who is taken several rounds later. Another option is plucking Wil Myers in the fifth or sixth round in order to maximize speed from your first baseman.
OF Giancarlo Stanton
There are going to be plenty of leagues where Stanton is the second player off the board, and it's not hard to see why. His home run ceiling could be in Barry Bonds territory, especially at Yankee Stadium. His injury history isn't that distant a memory, though he did appear in 159 games in 2017 after only combining for 193 in the two seasons prior.
As tantalizing as his prospective home runs may be, Stanton is very nearly a five-category stud. But, on the other hand, he lacks any semblance of speed with only six stolen bases since 2015, and hasn't always hit for as good an average as his numbers indicate a year ago (.281). He's better left until the latter part of Round 1, but he'll justify this selection if he blasts 70 bombs.
OF Bryce Harper
If Harper matches his MVP campaign from 2015, it's a win. If he's literally any other version of himself surrounding that season, he's a bust at No. 2. The problem with Harper is three-fold: he doesn't steal bases with any consistency, he isn't a staple of health, and his batting average is erratic on a yearly basis. With the second overall pick, you want to limit the risk and be sure you're locking down production. It may be safer to select Mookie Betts if you're keen on grabbing an outfielder.
3B Nolan Arenado
As long as Arenado plays for the Colorado Rockies, he's going to be a prime fantasy candidate. Third base also features less positional depth than outfield, which should be a factor when making this decision. Over his last three seasons, Arenado has hit .297/.343/.577 while averaging 40 home runs and 131 RBIs, playing no fewer than 157 games. He may not steal bases, but he doesn't have to. He'll return top value in the other four categories, and hasn't shown signs of fragility.
Final verdict: Altuve is the safest, best option, but either Kershaw or Scherzer would provide an excellent head start in your pitching staff. The best choice if you're keen on going the contrarian route is Arenado based on position scarcity and his stable, consistent production in four stat categories.
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